Letter to Oscar: Month One

Dear Oscar,

I am exhausted, grappling with pain from breastfeeding, still recovering from the c-section, overwhelmed, anxious about everything (are you eating enough? are you sleeping enough? will you prefer Coke or Pepsi?), scared, and pretty sure I don’t know what I’m doing.

I am also happier than I have ever been in my entire life.

Our life together is now lived in two-hour increments, which is about how long you go in between meals.  When I finish feeding you I look at the clock and immediately calculate how long I have until you need to eat again.  You are utterly dependent on me to eat, and I have to feed you, even when I don’t feel like it.  Nobody else can do this for you, which makes me feel both proud and lonely.  Sometimes in the middle of the night when I am bone tired, in pain, and can’t believe I am awake and the rest of the world is asleep, I tell myself: I am nursing my son.  There will never be another time like this again.

You entered our world and split it open, and everything that makes life real and human and unbearable and wonderful came spilling out.  Everything has been stripped down to what is essential and raw.  The days are filled with tears and laughter and pain and awe–mixed with poopy diapers and endless loads of laundry.  Sometimes I am so tired and overwhelmed I want nothing more than to hand you to your daddy while I scarf down a brownie and read a couple of pages of a book or magazine.  Other times I am content to do nothing more than hold you and watch you.  I love everything about you.

I love your enormous eyes, and the way they drink in the world.  You are always alert and looking around excitedly, ready for the next activity.  I love their beautiful blue color, and wonder what color they will end up being.

I love your hands, the way they look like little stars.  I love the way you fling your arms out wide when I take your clothes off.  A few weeks ago, when you were just a little guy, this used to scare you, and you would start screaming.  But now when it happens you get this look of fear mixed with exhilaration, like a sky diver, and you just go with it.  I love that when I offer you my finger, you cling to it for dear life.

I love your noises.  I love every coo, squeak, grunt, snuffle, and cry.  I want to soak up and memorize every moment of your newborn life.  I love watching you and your facial expressions.  I love the way you look around in awe when I walk with you from room to room, as if to say, “How did I get here?”  I just hope you don’t notice that I haven’t dusted in awhile.

Taking care of you is fun in ways I never imagined.  Who knew stacking clean diapers as they come out of the dryer could be such a complete and satisfying activity? Taking care of you also fills me with anxiety.  I worry about your weight.  I worry about your belly button.  I worry about your diaper rash.  I worry that I will never be able to feed you without experiencing excruciating pain in my breasts.  I worry that someday you will grow up and become a Republican.

For your one month birthday I took you to see the doctor, who examined you and proclaimed you normal.  Your weight, now eight pounds and five ounces, is “perfect.”  Your belly button is healing fine.  Your diaper rash is not that bad and the doctor gave us some special cream to clear it up.  I am taking medication to treat a possible yeast infection in my breasts and I am hopeful that I can make breastfeeding work for us.  I will always love you, no matter who you vote for.

So, we continue to take life one day at a time.  Now that I have a little son, I am amazed that life and love and the world can be so big.

Love, Mama

Individual Results May Vary

They actually let us take him home.

Oh, we have some books.  I’ve read things online.  Friends and family have given me advice.  But like most complicated new gadgets, I often struggle to see how to put theory into practice.

For instance, they tell me to feed him approximately every two hours, to burp him, to put him to sleep on his back, and not to use baby powder because he will inhale it and get lung cancer.

They tell me when to vaccinate him and how to take his temperature, but they don’t tell me how to keep him safe forever.

 They don’t tell me what it feels like to be a human dairy, they don’t tell me what it feels like to be dragged from sleep many times in the dark of the night when the rest of the world is asleep, and they don’t tell me what it feels like to have my heart ripped out every time I see those eyes.

He eats. A lot.
He poops.  A lot.
He cries. A lot.
I cry.  A lot.

Something as simple as going to the store with him is an extraordinarily complex procedure that rivals early transcontinental voyages via covered wagon.  The diaper bag alone requires a checklist of supplies.  Then he has to be fed, changed, and dressed (at which point it’s time to feed him again). He has to be strapped into his car seat like a little fighter pilot (at which point he promptly poops in his diaper).
However, we are learning new skills.  How to cook, eat, and clean with one hand.  How to change diapers in the dark.  How to sleep without moving. How to get through the day without sleep. And how to live on Oscar time.